Ileal atresia

Last revised by Joshua Yap on 5 Oct 2023

Ileal atresia is a congenital abnormality where there is significant stenosis or complete absence of a portion of the ileum. There is an increased incidence in those with chromosomal abnormalities.

This article will focus on ileal atresia alone but bear in mind that some cases correspond to jejunoileal atresia and show a mixed pattern, including the ones discussed in the jejunal atresia article. 

Ileal atresia results from a vascular accident in utero that leads to decreased intestinal perfusion and subsequent ischemia of a segment of bowel. This leads to narrowing, or in the most severe cases, complete obliteration of the intestinal lumen.

In the postnatal period, an abdominal radiograph will show air in the dilated loops of proximal bowel.

Contrast enema shows a microcolon

An ileal atresia is often discovered prenatally at a routine prenatal ultrasound scan or following the development of polyhydramnios. On ultrasound, there is frequently a proximal dilated intestinal segment.

Surgical treatment depends on the severity of obstruction and length of the damaged bowel but is usually curative.

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Cases and figures

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